Sunday, November 28, 2010


Van Gogh felt himself imprisoned by poverty, excluded from certain work and many things seemed beyond his reach. Of course, he was often melancholy, empty and discouraged. He was hungry for affection, too. "There may be a great fire in our soul, and no one ever comes to warm himself at it."
Robert Frost wrote, "Ballads lead their life in the mouths and ears of (wo)men by hear-say like bluebirds and flickers in the nest holes of hollow trees." Now there's a splendid gathering of words!
There are too many aggressive goldfinches at the window feeders. The friendly little chickadees are no longer coming.
Van Gogh, "A just or unjustly ruined reputation, poverty, fatal circumstances, adversity - they are what make men prisoners." He also named other ways to cage people. They are the prisoners of prejudice, misunderstanding, ignorance, mistrust and false shame. He often felt cut off from others, shut in, confined, buried. Did the door of his cell ever open? He escaped captivity when he experienced deep affection, friendship, being a brother, love. "Where sympathy is renewed, life is restored."
Two things surprise me about Van Gogh; one of his most recommended books was "Uncle Tom's Cabin", by Stowe, and although he was a young man he sometimes suffered with sore feet.
He had an incredible depth of sympathy toward others and although I haven't seen it in this book (so far) a profound recognition of the sacredness of all beings. A tender compassion for those who work and labor for pennies is a constant thread running through these pages.
The summer I was 11-12 an older cousin came to stay with us in Mpls. We lived on Riverside. One day I discovered him on the phone singing "The Lovesick Blues" to some girl. I was too young to appreciate his lovesick state and laughed at him. This was a nearly fatal mistake and he took to punching me when no one was looking. I told my mother he should go back to White Earth. "Why?" she asked. "Because he's trying to kill me." "Nonsense! You're always trying to make mole hills into mountains." So I started practicing how to lie in a casket. But it wasn't long when our relationship changed and he became my champion! But I almost had to die to gain his sympathy! I had to fall from the limestone cliffs of the Ms. R., dislocate my hip bones, scrape off half my face and break both arms!


  1. Too high a price to pay! Which Van Gogh? Sounds like it could be he contemporary one who was stabbed in Holland for producing a film against violence to women.